A tour of mystical, mythological Ireland
Take a tour through Irish ancient myth
It is said that a noblewoman named Bua is buried at Knowth, and a “great hill” was built up over her, creating the Great Mound at Knowth.
You can access the Knowth site through a guided tour from the Brú na Bóinne Center.
The third passage tomb site in the Boyne Valley is Dowth, or the “Fairy Mound of Darkness” (sounds appealing, eh?). It is similar in size to Newgrange and Knowth, and like the two complexes, was built 5,000 years ago.
The Dowth mound has two small passages, both located on the western side. Like Newgrange , the southernmost passage of Dowth is aligned to the setting sun of the winter solstice.
Dowth is not included in the Brú na Bóinne Visitors Center tour, and you cannot enter inside the tomb, but you can directly access it (it’s a short way from the Slane to Drogheda road) and meander around the peaceful site.
Hill of Tara
The Hill of Tara, also in the Boyne Valley, is the ancient seat of power in Ireland, and contains over 30 visible ancient monuments, including the Stone of Destiny and the Mound of the Hostages.
The Hill is said to be the actual seat of the High Kings of Celtic Ireland and the sacred dwelling place of the gods.
It is believed that St. Patrick went to Tara - the most powerful Celtic pagan site - in order to confront the religion of the Celtic pagans.
One of the most famous monuments at Tara, the Stone of Destiny, is known as the Lia Fáil. The stone, which is thought to be a symbol of fertility, once stood in front of the passage tomb at Tara, the Mound of the Hostages. High King legend says the Stone of Destiny would sing and roar in praise if it approved the inauguration of a worthy high king.
The megalithic passage tomb at Tara, the Mound of the Hostages, is the oldest monument of the site. Evidence of at least 200 individual cremations have been uncovered at the mound.
Engravings within the tomb are thought to represent the sun, moon or stars as religious symbols, and one of the stones may have been used as a prehistoric calendar.
Access to the Hill of Tara is free, but if you want to hear a bit more background on the site, take a guided tour through the visitor center.
Tara is now under threat due to the construction of the M3 highway. Protestors are hard at work to save Tara: the Hill of Tara was included in the World’s Monument Fund 2008 Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites in the world, and there is a letter writing campaign in the works in order to preserve the site.
Hill Of Slane
According to myth, the impressive Hill of Slane is the burial place of King Sláine, the king of the Fir Bolg (an ancient people of Ireland).
In more recent Christian history, the hill is also the site where Patrick lit the divine Paschal Fire in defiance of the pagan kings at Tara. Church ruins lie atop the hill, and the site remains a popular destination for Christians.
The Hill of Slane is accessible at all times, and there is no entry fee.